Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Lancaster County man honored for Lyme Disease research

Lancaster County man honored for Lyme Disease research

A Lancaster County (PA) man received one of two Lyme Poster Awards at the 2016 European International Lyme and Associated Disease Society Conference.

Bob Miller founded the Ephrata-based NutriGenetic Research Institute in 2015 and is its primary researcher.

He has been offering naturopathic treatments for years and became interested in "why some patients with chronic Lyme disease fail to get better with their physician-directed treatment protocol."

Miller reported recruiting about 400 people, half with chronic Lyme disease, to have their DNA analyzed by 23andMe and send him copies, as well as complete a survey on tick-borne diseases.

The award was based on his report of his findings that those with chronic Lyme share similar genetic variants.

Bob Miller's contact info:

15 Pleasure Road • Ephrata, PA 17522

717-733-2003 phone • 717-733-1756 fax

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Even more articles on the connection between Alzheimer's and the gut

A dozen or so in the past decade. Search PubMed for "Proal AD[au]" for them, or get the fulltext preprints of most of them from: http://mpkb.org/home/publications

Or you could look at the conference presentations on this YouTube channel:

Link between Alzheimer's and gut bacteria

The subject line says it all. There seems to be a growing body of research and evidence linking neurological disorders and gut health. I find this very promising, of course, just as was the case with peptic ulcers and bacteria in the stomach.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Pangaea Clinic of Naturopathic Medicine

I found this very educational site today. Among many other diseases, it has a good section about naturopathic treatment for Lyme disease. Check it out:

Friday, June 17, 2016

Genetic diversity of Babesia microti

From Pardis Sabeti: "We have a new study on genetic diversity of Babesia microti, a tick-borne parasite causing the emerging human disease babesiosis, an illness with symptoms similar to malaria found in the Northeast and Midwest United States. We investigated the evolution, geographic expansion, and drug resistance of B. microti. 

You can get a free access version at http://rdcu.be/iPQB "

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Neural Stem Cell Transplants in a Primate Model of Parkinson's Disease

Here is an example of ongoing work on stem cell transplants for the treatment of Parkinson's disease, in which the proximate cause of the condition is an accelerated age-related loss of a small but vital population of dopamine-generating neurons in the brain. Similar transplant therapies have been tested in a number of species, and in human patients over the past decade, but there is a great variety of possible cell sources and methodologies of treatment. Progress towards a standardized therapy emerging from all of this has been frustratingly slow.

Human parthenogenetic stem cells, derived from unfertilized oocytes, can be used to generate unlimited supply of neural stem cells for transplantation. Researchers testing the potential of cell therapy for treating Parkinson's disease (PD) has found that grafting human parthenogenetic stem cell-derived neural stem cells (hpNSCs) into non-human primates modeled with PD promoted behavioral recovery, increased dopamine concentrations in the brain, and induced the expression of beneficial genes and pathways when compared to control animals not transplanted with stem cells.

The researchers also reported that the intracerebral injection and transplantation of hpNSCs was "safe and well-tolerated" for the two transplantation test animal groups with moderate to severe PD symptoms. "Previous clinical studies have shown that grafted fetal neural tissue can achieve considerable biochemical and clinical improvements in PD, however the source of fetal tissue is limited and may sometimes be ethically controversial. Human parthenogenetic stem cells offer a good alternative because they can be derived without destroying potentially viable human embryos and can be used to generate an unlimited supply of neural cells for transplantation."

PD is characterized by a profound loss of function of the brain's basal ganglia, resulting in a loss of dopamine neurons. Experiments using stem cells have offered benefits in pre-clinical studies, but have also provided "a wide variety of patient outcomes." This study used hpNSCs because the cells demonstrate characteristics of human embryonic stem cells, but are not sourced from viable embryos, which may be destroyed in the process. Previous studies with hpNSCs had shown that the cells could also be "chemically directed" to differentiate into multipotent neural stem cells and were able to be frozen for future use. While the study was designed to determine whether the test animals showed greater improvement than the control group, researchers added that a longer outcome period than 12 months may have demonstrated continued improvement and divergence from controls.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Researchers find links between Helicobacter pylori infections and Parkinson's disease

James Anderson
Tue, 07 Jun 2016 00:00 UTC
A common bacteria that infects the human stomach has significant links with worsened symptoms of Parkinson's disease, researchers have found.

Researchers at the University of Malaya analysed a small group of Parkinson's disease patients with and without a common infection of the stomach lining caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Their results showed that those with the infection, around a third of the total, tested worse in motor problems related to Parkinson's disease.

Parkinson's disease is the world's second most common neurodegenerative disorder, causing tremors and decreasing motor coordination. Causes are elusive and doctors currently can only treat its symptoms.

Patients whose infection could be treated and eradicated showed fewer Parkinson's disease symptoms in motor performance tests, while those who stayed infected had further declines in their test results.

Over 50% of the world's population carries H. pylori, with the highest infection rates in Asian countries. It affects mucous membranes in the gut and causes chronic infections, often contracted during childhood.

H. pylori can cause a range of digestive tract disorders and can linger indefinitely unless treated, although some subjects show few symptoms.

Comment: The many faces of Helicobacter Pylori: H. pylori is a widely prevalent microbe with nearly 50% of the Western world and over 80% of those living in developing countries infected. The bacteria has an amazing ability to persist in infected individuals for decades and has been linked to autoimmune diseases, skin diseases and endocrine disorders. The infection has also been associated with depression, schizophrenia, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, cognitive decline, other neurological diseases, gastrointestinal motility disorders, lymphoma, and vitamin and nutrient malabsorption.

3 natural H. Pylori 'cures' that are clinically proven

The researchers have proposed two main theories to explain their results. The first is that the infection may reduce the uptake of levodopa, a drug that reduces symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

More speculatively, chronic H. pylori infections might aggravate or even trigger Parkinson's disease. However, they also speculate that it's possible that Parkinson's disease may make subjects more prone to contracting the infection.

The researchers say their limited study of 103 subjects aimed mainly to confirm the link between Helicobacter pylori infection and Parkinson's disease suggested by previous, less rigorous research. In addition to its size, the study was limited by the fact that it took place in a single Malaysian clinic and that it was cross-sectional; so it was essentially a data snapshot taken at a certain place and time.

But they say the link they found between the infection and worsened symptoms of Parkinson's disease is strong enough to justify further, larger, well-designed clinical trials to confirm it and investigate its causes in more depth.

Development of Parkinson's Disease

A similar 2011 study from Traci Testerman of Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center found that H. pylori could play a role in the development of Parkinson's disease.
"Infection of late middle-aged mice with a particular strain of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori results in development of Parkinson's disease symptoms after 3-5 months," says Testerman, who presented the research. "Our findings suggest that H. pylori infection could play a signficant role in the development of Parkinson's disease in humans."
In fact, physicians have noted a correlation between stomach ulcers and Parkinson's disease as far back as the 1960s, before it was even known that H. pylori was the cause of ulcers.

More recently, a number of studies found that people with Parkinson's disease were more likely to be infected with the bacterium, and that Parkinson's patients who were treated and cured of infection showed slight improvement compared to controls that continued to deteriorate.

Comment: A proven link between Parkinson's Disease and gut bacteria: Increasingly scientists are finding that Parkinson's is related to gut bacteria problems or imbalances. Research has found that Parkinson's patients have significantly more bacteria in the Enterobacteriaceae family which includes disease-causing bacteria such as E. coli, Yersinia pestis, Klebsiella, Citrobacter, Shigella, Proteus, Salmonella, Enterobacter and Serratia species of bacteria.

Testerman and her colleagues developed an animal model to more effectively understand the role of H. pylori and its modified cholesterol in Parkinson's disease.

They infected young and aged mice with three different strains of the bacteria and monitored their locomotor activity and dopamine levels in the brain. Mice infected with one of the strains showed significant reductions in both.
"The results were far more dramatic in aged mice than in young mice, demonstrating that normal aging increases susceptibility to Parkinsonian changes in mice, as is seen in humans," says Testerman.
In Guam, a study of why some populations had a high risk of developing a Parkinson's-like disease discovered that a specific compound in cycad seeds eaten by these populations was neurotoxic. The compound, which resembles a cholesterol with an attached sugar group, is almost identical to a compound produced by H. pylori.

M. F. Salvatore, S. L. Spann, D. J. Mcgee, O. A. Senkovich, T. L. Testerman
Helicobacter pylori Infection Induces Parkinson's Disease Symptoms in Aged Mice
ASM2011 Presentation Abstract

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Combination therapy cures Babesiosis in mice

Mon Jun 6, 2016 4:11 pm (PDT) . Posted by: 

"Rick Laferriere" ri_lymeinfo 

*Combination therapy cures tick-borne illness in mice*
Press Release
By Ziba Kashef, /Yale News/, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

June 6, 2016

A novel combination therapy cures an emerging infectious disease, 
babesiosis, which is transmitted by the same ticks that transmit the 
agents of Lyme disease, said Yale researchers. This "radical" therapy 
not only clears the infection but also prevents the recurrence that 
often occurs with existing treatments.

The study was published online June 6 in The Journal of Experimental 
Medicine <http://doi.org/10.1084/jem.20151519>.

Babesiosis (bab-e-see-oh-sis) is caused by the /B. microti/ parasite, 
which is most often transmitted through tick bites. It is more common in 
the Northeast and northern Midwestern states, and likely is on the rise 
as infected ticks expand geographically. Infected individuals can be 
asymptomatic, or develop symptoms that range from mild and flu-like to 
severe and life threatening. The parasite can develop resistance to 
existing therapies, leading to relapses after treatment.

For their study, the Yale-led team first tested in mice with diminished 
immune systems four drugs that are currently used in the form of two 
combinations to treat human babesiosis. Only one of those drugs, 
atovaquone, was effective in attacking a target enzyme that, when 
mutated, allows the parasite to develop resistance. Using the mouse 
model, the team observed efficacy with a fifth drug (ELQ) that involves 
a similar mechanism of action as atovaquone but at a different enzyme 
target site. They decided to test the two drugs in combination.

The researchers found that the combination of atovaquone and ELQ-334, at 
low doses, cleared the infection and prevented recurrence up to 122 days 
after treatment.

"This is the first radical cure against this parasite," said Choukri Ben 
Mamoun, associate professor of infectious diseases. "The novelty of the 
study was identifying a combination therapy that will both kill the 
parasite and also paralyze the target enzyme, making it nearly 
impossible for the parasite to develop resistance."

The finding is significant since babesiosis is increasing and up to 19% 
of the ticks and up to 42% of the mammalian hosts (mice and other 
rodents) that carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease is co-infected 
with /B. microti/.

With this finding, Ben Mamoun and his co-authors can take the next step 
and pursue studies of the combination therapy in people. "We are 
developing a better analog for ELQ that will be used in clinical trials. 
That's what our future studies will focus on — identifying a better ELQ 
that could be added to atovaquone. We could test the safety of the 
compound in humans," he said.

Other study authors include Lauren A. Lawres, Aprajita Garg, Vidya 
Kumar, Igor Bruzual, Isaac P. Forquer, Isaline Renard, Azan Z. Virji, 
Pierre Boulard, Eduardo X. Rodriguez, Alexander J. Allen, Sovitj Pou, 
Keith W. Wegmann, Rolf W. Winter, Aaron Nilsen, Jialing Mao, Douglas A. 
Preston, Alexia A. Belperron, Linda K. Bockenstedt, David J. Hinrichs, 
Michael K. Riscoe, and J. Stone Doggett.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the 
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Biomedical Laboratory Research and 


Yale News <http://news.yale.edu/>
Yale University
Office of Public Affairs & Communications
2 Whitney Avenue, Suite 330
New Haven, Connecticut 06510


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Fighting Lyme Disease in the Genes of Nantucket’s Mice

(C) NY Times

Fighting Lyme Disease in the Genes of Nantucket's Mice

White-footed mice carry the pathogen that causes Lyme disease. A M.I.T. scientist is proposing to create mice that are genetically engineered to break the cycle of transmission. Yousur Al-Hlou/The New York Times 

Can genetically engineered mice save Nantucket from the scourge of Lyme disease?

If the 10,000 residents of the island off Massachusetts didn't have such a soft spot for deer, they might not be entertaining the prospect, which could provide the groundwork for an even more exotic approach to controlling tick-borne diseases on the mainland.

But popular opinion has long opposed public health officials' recommendation of radically reducing the population of deer serving both as a food source for tickscarrying the Lyme pathogen and a convenient place for adult females to lay their eggs.

"The people who get sick yell and scream at me for not doing anything about it,'' said Malcolm MacNab, chairman of the Nantucket Board of Health, "and the others yell and scream at me because I want to kill the deer." Dr. MacNab said nearly 40 percent of Nantucket residents have had Lyme disease.

So when he heard that Kevin Esvelt, an evolutionary biologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wanted to gauge the island's interest in a new approach, he invited the scientist to present it at a public meeting on Monday.

More Reporting on Gene Editing 

Although deer help spread ticks that carry Lyme, Dr. Esvelt explained to about two dozen residents at yesterday's meeting, the disease can also be controlled earlier in the tick's food chain. Ticks typically contract the pathogen from white-footed mice, which they often feed on while still larvae, passing it on to humans and other mice when they bite again.

Using new genome-engineering tools, he proposes to create mice that are either immune to the Lyme-causing pathogen, or to a protein in the tick's saliva, or both, to break the cycle of transmission.

Continue reading the main story

If that works — and there is reason to think it will — he would then apply for permission to release thousands of the mice on a smaller, uninhabited island. If the number of infected ticks proved to be sufficiently reduced after two years, Nantucket could be next. The release of a few hundred thousand engineered mice over the course of about a year, Dr. Esvelt said, would ensure a stable population of resistant mice.

There is no company behind the project, which Dr. Esvelt estimated could take as long as a decade to complete. But he said he thought he could get government and philanthropic funding because it would provide evidence that might justify the use of another technology he has helped to pioneer, called "gene drive," to attack Lyme disease elsewhere.

In the Northeast and upper Midwest, the areas of the United States where Lyme is most prevalent, it would not be feasible to release enough engineered mice to spread the genes for Lyme immunity through the native mouse population.

An effort on that scale would require the addition of a gene drive, which assures that a given gene is passed to all of an organism's offspring rather than the usual half.

Gene drive technology is complicated because it has the capacity to alter an entire population of a given species, without any sure means of being canceled out if it has unforeseen consequences. It has so far only been used in laboratory experiments.

Dr. Esvelt said he wanted some indication of community support even before he starts looking for Lyme immunity genes in laboratory mice, both because he believes any effort to alter an ecosystem should not go forward without it — and because it would cost tens of millions of dollars. Ultimately, the proposal would need approval from federal and state regulators, as well as a majority of Nantucket's citizens.

"Is this a project you might wish to pursue?'' he asked on Monday. Dr. MacNab, who had anticipated some opposition to the idea, braced himself as Danica Connor, who identified herself as an herbalist, took the microphone.

"I'm the first person to say if you go tinker with Mother Nature we're going to break it,'' she said. "But you know what? Even I want to see where you go with this.''

Nantucket may have competition. Dr. Esvelt said he is scheduled to make a similar presentation on nearby Martha's Vineyard in July.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Lyme disease tips may be taught in schools

 "Because our children spend so much time exploring the outdoors, and because they may not know how to identify a tick, let alone alert their parents should they find one, they are especially vulnerable when it comes to contracting Lyme and tick-borne..."  

Check out this story on